By Rui Santos, President of the Board, Association of Portuguese, Customer Service Professionals

Why is it important to know how to manage (and not just how to measure) quality?

The world is changing, changing fast. The way people communicate is changing. The way people think and reason is changing. The way people make buying decisions is changing. The reasons that drive customers to stay loyal to one company or to change to another are changing.

Companies can no longer be content to have merely satisfied customers. Satisfied customers are neutral customers. Satisfied customers are customers who have no complaints. Customers with no complaints are not loyal customers. Satisfied customers are vulnerable customers. Satisfied customers leave the company as soon as the competition offers them better conditions.

Companies can no longer be content to have merely satisfied customers. Companies need to convert their customers into fans. Fans who take pride in the company. Fans who are true ambassadors of the brand. Fans who are promoters of the company.

A customer is not loyal because he / she has signed a loyalty agreement. A customer is loyalty when he / she is not obliged to anything and, nevertheless, prefers to stay in the company.

The loyal customer is not the one who chooses the cheapest company. The loyal customer is the one who chooses the company that he or she trusts the most.

That said, are you sure that your company is building a fan club … or just making sure you do not have dissatisfied customers? What instruments are you using to measure that? What tools and processes are you using to convert your customers into fans?

The new approach to Quality Management

A new world with new requirements requires a new approach to quality management.

First of all, it is important to clarify the difference between measuring and managing quality:

  • Measure Quality: Equalto Passive Observation. Present “what is”
  • Manage Quality: Equal to Proactive Research. Find out “why” and “how”

Ten points that your Quality Management Process will have to take into consideration:

  1. Causes and Consequences: The quality management process will have to allow you to identify the root causes in the origin of the observed results. In order to identify the root causes, you will have to disaggregate all the results according to their elemental dimensions. for example, disaggregate by customer segment, by product, by service, by employee, etc.
  2. Samples: The sample size must be representative of the universes whose behaviors you intend to investigate. Learn everything you can about random samples versus stratified samples, error margins, confidence intervals, frequency, evaluation grids and survey scripts, simulation cases, etc.
  3. Correct and Replicate: It is not only the problems that must be eliminated. the quality management process should also allow you to recognize what is working very well so that it can be replicated.
  4. Take Action: The investigation should only end when you identify the corrective actions to be implemented for each improvement opportunity. Each corrective action will have to have an unequivocal owner and an implementation plan for it. The implementation of each corrective action should be closely monitored. The results obtained should be re-evaluated from a continuous improvement cycle perspective.
  5. The Customer is the King: Ensure that your Quality Management Process is powered by the quality perceived by the Customer, not just internal KPIs. Identify the best way to get your customer feedback. When is the best time to get the feedback? What is the best channel to get the feedback? What are the most power questions you should ask to get the feedback?
  6. Meet or Exceed Expectations: Make an internal reflection about what are your customer service objectives? If your goal is to meet the expectations of your customers, simply assess the degree of compliance with the predefined parameters. However, if you want to exceed expectations and surprise your customers, the quality management process will have to help you identify the basic expectations of your customers, beyond the characteristics of the products purchased or contracted services.
  7. Personalization: Customers are not all the same. On the contrary, customers are all different. It makes no sense to use the same evaluation criteria for a residential customer and a business customer, right? But it will also make no sense to use the same evaluation criteria for a customer who prefers price vs other who prefers quality. Make sure you know what is most important for each of your customer segments and measure that.
  8. Omni-channel Experience: The customer experience is no longer a single channel experience. The quality management process should allow you to evaluate the quality of service provided in each individual interaction, in each channel, as well as the perception of quality of the customer at the end of his / her entire service experience.
  9. Multilingual and Multicultural Environment: We live in a global world. Our customers are increasingly diversified and heterogeneous. Different origins. Different languages. Different accents. Different cultures. Different beliefs.  Different convictions. Different values. Do not allow your quality assessment to be influenced by your frame of reference. Embrace the differences.
  10. 360º Control Panel: Make sure you present the results in a graphical and easy-to-read form. Explore the full potential of BI tools. Allow the drilldown of information, from the global vision, through the multiple possible dis-aggregations, to the corresponding corrective actions and the status of each implementation plan.

Use the information to Tell a story!

  • Start with “Where we are”
  • Explain “Why” and “How did we get Here”
  • Remind “Where do we want to Go”
  • Tell “What do we Have to Do” > “Who will Do it and When”;Share also “What are we already doing” and “What we have already done and what were the results”

Rui has over twenty-five years of professional experience in Omnichannel Customer Experience Management, Contact Centers, Retail Management, Customer Self Service and Quality Management. He has worked with dozens of companies to improve customer service initiatives including Adecco, Alliance Healthcare, Altitude Software, Collab, Conceptek, Contact, Continente, L’Oréal Portugal, Liberty Seguros, MetLife, Mercer, Microsoft, Staples, Vodacom (Moçambique), and many others. He is a frequent Keynote Speaker at conferences and seminars held all over the world by organizations such as APCC, Frost & Sullivan, IDC, IFE, IQPC and Jacob Fleming.

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